Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Search Parties

Zachary Xerxes Ramsay
Zachary Xerxes Ramsay

Zachary's mother provided a detailed description of her son to the police, as well as recent photographs. He was born on December 18, 1985, a week shy of being a Christmas baby. He was the product of an interracial marriage — his father is black and his mother is white — and he had a dark complexion with dark hair and brown eyes. Zach's mother described her son as four feet tall and weighing approximately 100 pounds. He also had a small scar on his forehead between his eyebrows, and wore glasses. However, he did not have his glasses with him that day — he had forgotten them at home. He was also described as having blotchy skin at the time of his disappearance, and dimples. When he left for school that morning he was dressed in stone washed jeans, a football jersey with his surname, Ramsay, on the back, black high-top tennis shoes, and a blue denim baseball jacket with green sleeves.

Great Falls Police Department patch
Great Falls Police Department patch

The Great Falls Police Department moved swiftly. Their first priority was to try to find the missing child, hopefully alive. If that effort failed, then they could move toward finding out what happened to him, and why. For now, everyone just hoped that Zach would turn up unharmed.

Wasting no time, police officers mobilized and went door to door in their search for Zach. Neighbors were asked if they had seen the boy, and were asked to be on the lookout for him. Residents all over town were asked to check their outbuildings and garages, anywhere that a child might be able hide out for a while. The police also checked abandoned vehicles, as well as vehicles that were only being used infrequently. They searched Zachary's school and the school grounds, interviewed his friends, and questioned members of his family thoroughly, to no avail.

Entrance to Gibson Park
Entrance to Gibson Park

Search parties made up of police officers and citizens alike searched the banks of the Missouri River at several points in town, and a massive search effort was conducted at Gibson Park, a large park located in north-central Great Falls near where the Missouri River bends gradually eastward, not far from Zach's home. Searchers dug through snow banks, and bloodhounds, put onto Zachary's scent using the boy's toothbrush that his mother provided, searched along the river and through the park as well. The searchers and their dogs literally hunted for the child, in places all over town that could be used as a hiding place by a youngster or places that could be used to dispose of another person's remains, including garbage bins. However, there was no sign of the boy.

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